Crossover Fan Fiction ❯ My Unfortunate Whale Vision ❯ SIX ( Chapter 6 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Chapter 6


Following our uncomfortable debate at the service club, Genshiken disbanded. I suppose this is a positive, because it let me get back to my entrance exam studies, cramming test questions and the needed background knowledge. I’ve read that in universities in the rest of the world, they teach you these things in class, rather than expect you to learn it before you get there. I think it is possible that Japan is completely insane. What is the point of university if you learn nothing there because you had to cram all the knowledge before arriving? If you already learned it, what are you paying for? This is ridiculous. Didn’t anyone tell them how education is supposed to work? I am half-tempted to merely learn the general studies and skip cram school, get a passport and go overseas and get a real college experience where I’d learn something amazing. If only my English were better.

“Pardon the intrusion,” said a male voice, then slid the door open. It was Smiley, wearing his usual placid smile. His eyes displayed the nervous guilt I’d come to associate with him in the classroom. He knew he was doing wrong, again, and was feeling guilty about it for fear of getting caught. His uniform looked wrinkled and worn, to my eyes. So did his haggard frame. In the future he’d drop the fake blonde hair and develop the salesman’s look, one every salaryman can recognize. A look of exhaustion, despair, a fear of losing what little they still have, and the need to fast talk their way out of the trouble they created with all the lies they tell by reflex. This is a bad look, but one I see on the bus and train.

“I want to make a request of the Service Club,” he explained. Yukino glared at him, waiting. Yui looked uncomfortably between the two of them, nervously fidgeting with her fingers.

“What is your request?” I asked him, since it was clear the girls wouldn’t.

“Recently there have been some chain mail messages circulating about me and my friends. I’d like to stop them,” he said.

“Oh?” Yuigahama perked up. “I saw something but thought it was just some kind of spam.”

“Most of the school got these messages,” he admitted with some noticeable discomfort.

“There must be some reason these messages started. Has anything happened?” Yukino asked. Then she regarded me suspiciously.

“I pay little attention to them. I am busy studying,” I countered her unstated accusation.

“Well, there is the field trip to visit local businesses. It is going to be in groups of three,” Yuigahama pointed out.

“Why only groups of three? What if more people want to visit somewhere? Isn’t Chiba Advanced Robotics supposed to be a really interesting place? I was planning to go there, myself,” I admitted.

If you don’t want to be a boring employee, specialize in fixing robots. There’s a job that pays well. And there’s factories with robots across Japan. It’s a job with paid travel. No worries about sticking around where your wife gets bored of you. And if you don’t have a wife, you don’t have to worry about her cheating on you while you’re out earning a living hundreds of kilometers away. This has great potential.

“That is a good point. Why limit to groups of three? What if more than two groups go to the same place?” Yukino repeated. “I will bring it up with Hiratsuka Sensei.”

Smiley looked confused.

“Is that it?” he asked. “What about the letters?”

“Oh, I’m sure those will stop when your friends realize you can still all go together after all,” I blithely assured.

“Oh… um. Okay. Thanks, I guess,” Smiley said, backing out and slid the door closed behind him.

“Pfft. As if anyone would care about those boys enough to make a chain mail about them,” Yukinoshita declared firmly. She adjusted her glasses, then returned her attention to a book of Samurai poetry. Why she keeps reading that I don’t know. Maybe it’s really hard to understand, or there’s family reasons to master it? There appear to be some downsides to being upper class in Japan. As a working class person, I can only stare without comprehension.

“Kind of obvious prank, really,” admitted Yui, her chin wattles jiggling.

I got back to studying. I really don’t care about student drama. The following day I turned in my Work-Form to visit Chiba Advanced Robotics center, downtown and within walking distance of the school. Two other groups signed up for this, so around half the class opted to visit together. The messages apparently stopped.

Two days later we went to the center and I observed the robots, noting information about their operations and asked questions about maintenance cycles and whether that was done in-house. It wasn’t. It really is a highly paid contractor job. I got the name of some of the technical contractor companies and investigated their hiring requirements, noting the names of several robotic certifications, and many of the employees being graduates of CIT, Chiba Institute of Technology. While it was amusingly used as the setting for Ah Megami Sama, it was an actual university in Chiba that dated to before the War. Going to Soubu was an inside track towards that university’s entrance requirements. I would need to knuckle down more on the mathematics, and on computer coding, particularly OCR. Oddly enough, modern robots used cameras to read metal rulers attached to the robots to help position them, and OCR to control the positions. That seems ridiculous, but it was so. I also found out that Retooling engineers hired these robotics contractors to setup the initial robotics movements and maintain the code and their calibration adjustments, as well as replace worn parts. And you got paid a small fortune just to show up, before doing any work. It was a decent living. I could live in the boonies near a train station or airport and travel as needed. Robots don’t gain 40 kilos and glare at you with hate filled eyes. They are better than women.

At one point Yuigahama tried to stare at me with a worried expression, but got called away by her clique of friends, heading to a restaurant for noodles and barley tea. They didn’t invite me, and I was grateful for the escape, since all the walking had made my leg hurt pretty badly. Obviously, there would be no club after this field trip so I headed home. Komachi was pleased to find me early so I helped her prepare dinner.

“Bro, have you tried listening to music? You can’t see them, so they won’t spoil it by being visible,” Komachi suggested, sautéing some green onion then deglazing with mirin. I finished setting the table.

“It is an idea. Any suggestions?” I asked her.

“Taishi found out some band from England, been around for decades so they have like twenty albums. His sister is into them, and he found songs he likes. Try searching on WePipe for A Forest by The Cure,” she suggested. I did that after dinner was cleaned up. With headphones and playing through my computer I could see why. The band went from punk rock in the late 70’s to being one of the original goth-wave bands a few years later. I listened to All Cats Are Grey. It was dark, a very dark and somber song, like you’d play for some funeral, or an epitaph put to music. It took several listens to decipher the lyrics because the voice was low, like another instrument in the song. Review of the album stated that the record it came from called Faith was part of an experiment they’d started with Seventeen Seconds of deliberately downmixing the singer for that reason, turning the voice into an instrument. The most recent thing was with some band called Crystal Castles, called I’m Not In Love. An interesting piece of music. I looked at my clock and found it was nearly midnight and I’d been listening for literal hours, lost track of time. I used the bathroom and went to bed.

The following day, during a break after homeroom I used my phone to buy and download the album titled Pornography onto my phone. By lunch time I was looking for a quiet place to sit and cry, because I’d worked out the lyrics to The Figurehead. Why doesn’t Japan have music like this? Do you have to be English to really understand grief? If I’d had this back when Orimoto broke my heart I might have understood things better. Considering it was published around the time my parents were born I’m pretty amazed. Recent pictures of the previously skinny teen showed an aging fat man earning his pension. That someone this depressed lived to earn a pension is pretty amazing.

By the end of school I was pretty shaken and it took me a while to get my head into my studies, working through precalculus at my usual spot in the clubroom. Algebra and Trig had been simple enough. Calculus is more complicated. I am actually needing to use the Quadratic Equation. Engineering is based on calculus and materials science, which uses calculus heavily.

“Would you stop that?” interrupted Yukinoshita. Yui was staring at me with an expression I’ve never seen before. Yukino was glaring, holding Yui’s hand gently. I blinked.

“What? I’m doing homework,” I responded, irritated to lose the flow.

“You were singing,” Yukinoshita insisted.

“What? I was not. This is calculus,” I denied.

“You were singing. Something in English. I don’t know it,” answered Yuigahama shakily. “It… it scared me.”

“Oh. Sorry then. I just got into a band,” I realized. I hadn’t been like that since Suneohair did their album for Hachimitsu No Clover. If ever there was a warning to avoid art school, that show was it.

“What song was I singing anyway?” I asked. Yui glanced to Yukino who nodded. Yui took a breath and began to sing in her clear gyaru voice.

Sharp and open, leave me alone, I’m sleeping less every night. As the days become heavier, I’m awaiting wait in the cold night.” She was good. Surprisingly good. And just for a second I saw her as a gaunt goth chick with heavy eye shadow, lidded eyes, a knowing smile, and tattoos peaking out on her neck and shoulder, an ankh necklace and black beads. Her hair black and sticking up in a severe bun with decorative sticks. It was a mature and dangerous ane-san look, and it kind of startled me.

“Ah, The Figurehead. I can see why,” I answered. “You’re good at singing, Yui.” She blushed at my praise.

“Have you been listening to this music long?” inquired Yukino darkly. She was likewise, just for a moment, in a goth outfit, with lace, eye shadow, and a parasol, with slightly cavernous cheeks and a consumptive look.

“I just heard it this morning. It sticks in my head,” I admitted.

“And you consider this appropriate for calculus?” Yukino accused. She just couldn’t stop with her complaints could she?

Rather than answer with words I selected All Cats Are Grey on my laptop playlist and played it through the cheap speakers. The girls listened. I got back to doing calculus.

Sometime later, the song shifted into tracks from Pornography, grinding guitars of 100 Years, A Short Term Effect, then Hanging Garden lyrics leaving the girls blushing, leading to A Strange Day gaining blanched faces, and the remaining tracks being utterly dark examples of goth rock. Cold found I was singing along again.

Scarred your back was turned, curled like an embryo,” I sang as I completed my calculus worksheet and saved the file. The girls looked haunted, lost in self-reflection. I suppose I am impressed they both understand enough English to translate the lyrics.

“Umm. I think that’s enough for Service Club today,” offered Yukinoshita after a long pause. I agreed, and shortly packed my things and limped out with my cane.

The following week was end of term exams. I finished third, behind the student council president and Yukinoshita. I now qualified for several scholarships.